Jillian Matundan
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Jillian Matundan

Fairfax, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2018 | SELF

Fairfax, Virginia, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2018
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter

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"Singer-Songwriter Jillian Matundan Surfaces to Release Her New EP, "Hangin' On""

By: Rick Landers

Surfacing a couple of years ago in the Washington, D.C., music seen was Jillian Matundan, a multi-instrumentalist with a a talent and intuitive grasp of songwriting, with catchy riffs, cool poignant melodies and a presence that’s at once genuine, earnest and charming.

Her songs are personal, yet universal, clever yet sometimes disarming. And, she has been gathering fans in the area and working tenaciously to build her musical footprint, beyond the East Coast.

Jillian recently released her first EP, having worked with thirteen time Washington Area Music Award recipient (Best Producer), Marco Delmar, learning the ropes that many do in the studio, watching a master engineer mix her songs. But, even more importantly, listening to the voice of experience in order to hear what others hear, and to improve her raw material as it becomes polished in the production phase.

Matundan has also found a community of women singer-songwriters to huddle with in song circles, to perform alongside on stage and to form a bond of collaboration, one that nurtures her’s and other’s songwriting in meaningful ways.

And, during her short time performing, Jillian has begun to make her mark on the D.C./VA/MD area by earning a runner-up spot for Vienna, Virginia’s “Vienna Idol” contest, and be being the recipient of two Mid-Atlantic Song Contest awards (2019 – Finalist; Adult Contemporary Category for her song “Hangin’ On” and Honorable Mention, Open Category for “Monkey Paw”).

Her interest in exploring different sounds is evident in her ability to play the guitar, ukelele, piano, banjo, sitar, steel drums, mandolin, string bass, flute, violin, and I recall watching her play a drum box, with some of her fellow performers. Jillian has been an avid listener and player of classical music since she was three-years old, when she began formally studying violin.

Like many of us, she pursued a career in what artists might call a “regular job” and for fifteen years found herself immersed in the labor movement. But, as luck would have it, her thoughts eventually returned to the idea of seeing if her songs would be well-received at local open mics. And, soon she would find that her muse was not only appealing, but sought out by others.

Her short two year road of open mics, folk club and showcase performances have helped prompt her to record and release her 2020 debut album, Hangin’ On. A portion of the sales of her EP will go to support Fair Fight 2020, an organization seeking to ensure free and fair elections.

Rick Landers: Like many creative artists, the idea of committing to a career in music can be an exciting endeavor, but taking that step becomes a leap and is most challenging when relying on music as a means to make a living. Entering the foray generally means that you believe in your talents and you’ve a financial strategy to survive. What elements were in place for you to make the move to perform and build a music career? 

Jillian Matundan: So, I decided to dip my toe in; I’d built an entire career outside of music; one I still am very present in. I have been a musician my entire life, but I also knew I was interested in other things.
Professionally, I dedicated myself to social justice and the labor movement, so I actively stepped away from building a career in music, though that was the plan from a very young age. As I found myself in mid-career and mid-life generally, I realized there was a whole other part of me that was absent and that’s when I decided that I needed to find my music, and my voice again.

My biggest goal was to start writing my music and playing it again. What has happened since I took the leap to playing publicly was entirely unexpected and a happy surprise. I’m so fortunate, but I’m trying to find the balance between having a demanding job and my music.
I’m learning the other side of it: when you do decide to put yourself out there, there’s so much to do and I’m totally learning as I go, which is actually the story of my life. I forgot that when you decide to do more than just open mics, you are your own production, management, promotions – everything.

It’s still a struggle to try to balance it all right now, but I’m so much more happier that I’ve returned to music.

Rick: What instrument did you first pick up that grabbed your attention, giving you the motivation to learn it, and did it take long to look around for others to learn? 

Jillian Matundan: I was three years old. The story is that my mom found me with a ukulele tucked under my chin because I saw Elmo play a violin on Sesame Street. My parents enrolled me in the Metropolitan School for the Arts (MSA) in Syracuse, New York and like many kids, started with Suzuki.

I apparently had “something” and a few years later, I moved to violin concertos, which is not normal at that age. I was spending three days a week at MSA – two violin and a piano lessons – an hour each – every week. My parents were a strict about it, too: I was practicing three hours on my violin, one hour on piano a day. Every day I aspired to be a performing musician and hoped to audition for a pre-college program.
Music is the first language I ever explored of my own volition. I’m grateful for my training and I’ve been trained on violin, piano, flute, and sitar, that came in my late twenties as I wanted to learn something completely different!. I’ve been self-trained in every other instrument I play, from guitar, to percussion, string bass, ukulele, banjo, etcetera. The foundation I had in learning music so young made it easier to learn the other instruments along the way, but it’s still practice that helps my ability and skill.

Rick: Within a short time, you’ve risen to become one of the better known singer-songwriters in the Mid-Atlantic region. Did you have a strategy or was this more a matter of hard work and talent, coupled with happenstance? 

Jillian Matundan: Well, that’s incredibly flattering and I might dispute that description, but thank you. I often say that I tripped backwards into this space.

I had left New York City in 2004 and started having a dry spell writing music. While I played violin and string bass in local orchestras wherever I would land, I had stopped performing solo in 2003. I never considered myself a solo artist, I always had a band and I think that was the start of the dry spell, this excuse of, “I can’t write music without a band. And I don’t have time for a band right now.”

It was a convenient lie. So, before I knew it, I had not written a new song in 15 years. I had become a person who played in my home for enjoyment, learning covers, letting my own music sit on a shelf. 

When I finally decided I needed to try to do something about it, I applied to Dar Williams’ Writing a Song That Matters Retreat in 2018. I had no idea what to expect, but that retreat and the lovely and welcoming souls that attend and facilitate it helped to open me back up.

I had music that I had started to write in 2003, that I finished within the first three days of that retreat. And that was it. I was hooked again and in a really encouraging community of songwriters that kept inspiring me. One of them asked why I wasn’t performing live and I had no good answers and she insisted that I really needed to get back out there.
And after some reflection, I thought, “Why not?”, so in January of 2019, I went to an open mic in Burke, Virginia, and because of the positive response, kept going. I started to look for more open mics in the area. And there’s something really amazing about the musical community here: it’s really quite amazing and supportive. It’s a true community. Thanks to other local musicians, I just kept going. And thanks to the songwriting community from the retreat, I kept trying writing. 
Everyone I know, every musician I know, was so helpful in telling me about opportunities, guiding me and giving me advice, and helping me hone my own music that I just started to go for things.

I learned over many years to trust my gut and so that has guided me well in this instance. I can tell you I’m just as amazed and astonished at how far I’ve come in the past year and a half, since I started playing out again. And so very thankful to have this amazing community to be a part of. 

Rick: Your songs have a gentleness to them, and a personal poignancy that draws us in to not only feel what you feel, but to want to hear more. I’d say it’s a forged mix of the traditional structure of folk music, but stylistically contemporary, from what many of us have heard. Do you have songs that you’ve intentionally written to dig into styles that you may not initially be comfortable playing or performing? 

Jillian Matundan: Thank you, I appreciate that very much. I often have a hard time trying to figure out what my style actually is because it feels as varied as the genres I listen to, which is pretty much everything.
I don’t chase a style, but I let my fingers move on the guitar. For instance, “Keeper” – part of that riff was something that I’d just noodle around with and never thought it would turn into anything. It was February Album Writing Month and a group of us were trying to write a song or snippet or lyric once a week. I was running close to deadline and something inspired me to elaborate on it and I offered it. And they really liked it. After messing around with it more and adding words, I offered the first draft of a song up in a songwriting circle and people loved it, which still kind of surprises me. 

In another example, one of the songs on my EP is one that I wrote back in 1998, when I was with my band from high school, very much in the style I was writing in at the time.

When we got together to record it last year, my drummer said, “I have an idea, what if we went bass-heavy and kind of swing it, make it more bluesy?”

Here was a song I wrote twenty-one years prior and had been playing it the same way ever since. But one thing I’ve learned is to be open with my music and see if there are other choices based on feedback I get from other musicians. In this case, it absolutely was the right choice. I can’t recreate the version on the EP when I play alone, at least I haven’t tried. But some part of me gets a lot of satisfaction knowing that it started one way and someone else heard it in a different style, and it’s the better for it on that recording.

Generally, when I write something that doesn’t feel natural to my style or am uncomfortable playing or performing, I spend a lot of time with it, which is to also say I will put it down, walk away from it, and then pick it up again later to see if it still feels different to me. If I try to break out of my own mold, the intentionality of that takes longer.  Eventually, they inevitably become mine and I will only perform it when I feel technically comfortable with them.

Comfort, when putting your own music out in the world, is elusive to me, generally. [Laughs] I’m always a little nervous about it.

Rick: What guitars are in your instrument arsenal and what guitar is closest at hand for noodling around, one that lends itself to drawing songs out of you? 

Jillian Matundan: I do have quite a collection after all these years. I started on an Ovation in the early ’90s. I wandered into the House of Guitars in Rochester and somehow managed to talk my mom into getting me a Gibson Chet Atkins SST for my high school graduation.

Those were my main guitars for years until 2005, when I picked up an FV Stevens acoustic cutaway from the Philippines. It was my workhorse until a repair to the bridge made it start buzzing, which still makes me sad. It wasn’t the greatest guitar, but it had a great tone and I loved playing it.


I have a classical FV Stevens guitar, too. A few years ago, I decided I needed to try an electric again and picked up a used PRS SE Custom 24 that is beautiful. But, I’m still an acoustic guitar girl and once my main guitar started buzzing in 2018, I found a used Taylor mini-GS that I beat up for a few months until I found the guitar you will find in my hands the most often now, the Taylor 914ce sb. I never thought I’d plunk down that much money for a guitar in my life, but I have to say that from the second I picked it up at the store, it just felt like mine, you know?

Sort of like Harry Potter, “The wand chooses the wizard.” I had to have it. I always want to play it. It is the one that I have written almost all of my music on since I bought it. I know it’s a bit fancy and other guitarists always ask me about it because it’s a 914. Guitarists are often amazed that I let them try it, but frankly, it’s meant to be played and I don’t see any reason not to share the love.

Since then, I’ve picked up a used PRS Tonare TX20e that I have in DADGAD, because I’ve been writing in a lot of different tunings these days. 

As you can imagine, I have a number of other instruments, and while the Taylor is the primary, the other most prized instrument I have is my violin. After that, I have an arsenal of other instruments, including a mandolin, banjos, a string bass, ukuleles, keyboard, and assorted percussion instruments.

Frankly, they’re taking over and my partner has resigned himself to understanding that it’s an obsession, and has stopped asking questions, as long as I keep it contained, which is not easy.

Rick: Do you have a special place where you sit down and start writing lyrics or coming up with chord progressions or melodies, or is there some musical inventiveness always rolling around, and you find inspiration wherever are? 

Jillian Matundan: It can be a mix of both. Since quarantine, my music room ended up becoming my home office, so I’m in it all the time. It’s getting a bit crowded with the instruments I have out, because the mood can strike and I find inspiration plunking around on an instrument that isn’t the guitar from time to time. That’s the room where I write the most.

But, lyrics strike me all the time now. Honestly, the floodgates have been open since 2018 and I just do my best to capture them when I can. The best thinking I do is when I’m doing other things. I’ll be washing dishes and something will come to me and I have to pick up the phone and sing to it for a minute and then I go back to whatever I was doing. Same when I drive, which is a bit more dangerous, but I just record whatever it is when I can. I can’t predict where inspiration hits, but I am getting better at noticing it and trying to capture it for later when I’m in the zone.

Rick:  Tell us about your first open mic and how it compares to your last public performance, how you’ve matured as an artist or performer, and where you find inspiration to keep moving forward? 

Jillian Matundan: I was pretty nervous, but I’m a determined person. Once I’m in the situation, something in me just says, “You’re here, do it”. I don’t know if it’s my early training, but once I start playing music, I can tune out the rest. It’s when I get off stage that the nerves weirdly come back.

I don’t remember a lot of the first open mic and while I can remember what I played, I just know what it felt like to be back on stage. I’ve had the great advantage of having supportive friends tell me how I’ve grown more comfortable since they first saw me, and that’s heartening. I’ve always felt a sense of comfort once I’m on stage, even if my nerves are flipping out, but in the end, I know that to be true to my music is to be true to myself, so I’m the same on the stage and off.

The more I do it, the more I know what to expect. I think my music is evolving, too. As I take more risks and share more of my intimate feelings in my music, I’m doing that when I play live, too. It’s vulnerable, but that’s exactly what music is to me. The inspiration I find is in the audience.

That’s what makes this time difficult for some and me in particular; the joy of making music live in a room is the conversation you are having in real time with your audience.

While I love that there are a lot more people who can watch me play live when I livestream a show, I miss that immediate response, that feeling of community that you are creating in real time that only exists until you leave the stage. I try to tap into it and I feel most alive when I am in that space with the audience. That’s what keeps me coming back. Sharing the music. 

Rick: Have you ever hit the streets to busk solo? 

Jillian Matundan: It’s been years. I did that when I was in high school and college; the gregariousness of youth. I did recently break out the guitar in New York City while doing a program with hundreds of women last year and all because someone asked me to play a song because they saw the guitar on my back. She was a musician, too. So, we played music together, singing, trading the guitar between us.

People started lining up, circling around us, singing. It wasn’t busking, but it was amazing. And so every time the program met, I’d bring my guitar and we’d all sing on the New York City streets together.
Sometimes we’d get pushed down the block by a cop, but we’d just move down the block and take up again. Music is a conversation and community to me, so if I do it, it’s for the enjoyment. I’m fortunate that way. 

Rick: I’ve seen you performing with some other women musicians in either a band or a partnership of artists with similar goals and interests. Who are you hanging with and how did you get together? 

Jillian Matundan: Yes! I would find myself at these open mics mainly surrounded by men. It’s just a fact of life for many women musicians. I was maybe one of two women – maybe three if we were lucky? I started to notice the other women and we started to naturally pull together. Then there were these younger, newer songwriting women who were also starting to dip their toe in the scene, and it was like, “Yes! Let’s talk!”.

Nancy Katz Triplett, who runs a number of local open mics and I started talking about that. Around that time, Valeria Stewart and Kathleen Huber of Luna had approached me about playing percussion on some of their songs and we started talking about it. Nancy was having the same conversation with Michelle Swan and Florencia Rusiñol and pulled us all together in a room and we started to collaborate.
We initially called ourselves “Lilith Fairfax” but then became the “Circle Collaborative”. There was a lot of great energy around it when we started talking about it; other women musicians naturally wanted to be a part of it and we had started to throw ideas together, from songwriting circles, to festival appearances, and women open mics, but then COVID happened.

Some of us are still pulling this together, but we are going to open that up to the community and try to figure out what the path looks like together. In all, we want it to be a safe and encouraging space for all, with an emphasis on local women musicians and songwriters, and a way for us to lift each other up and work together.

Women in circle are a powerful thing. Revolutionary, actually. It’s not to say we don’t invite men in any way or form, we just want to start there. And we know there are great organizations out there already, like Project Hera in D.C.. We just wanted to have something to supplement this community in a way that felt engaging with the community that has built here. And frankly, we just have a blast playing with each other, so that’s a huge part of the fun and want to get together.

Rick: Soon, you’ll be releasing a new EP, and you’ve already released or have one of its songs on-line. How did that come about and who are you working with to get the production side of things recorded in a way that complements the intent of each song? 

Jillian Matundan: People started to ask why I didn’t have anything recorded once I stepped out and started playing and it was through encouragement that it just kind of happened.

A little over a year ago now, a friend of mine back in Albany, New York, Steve Werthner, just put finishing touches on his in-home Dark Matter Studio and asked if I wanted to record. So, I took him up on that offer and we got other Albany musicians we knew together to join me.

Once we were done and I was thinking about working with a local person to do mixing, Ron Goad connected me to Marco Delmar of Recording Arts in Arlington and that’s how it happened.

This took a very long time because of the impromptu nature that it all came together. I’m so thankful to all the musicians who came together to bring it to life. We recorded nine songs over what ends up being 12 hours when you add up the time we in studio together. Because we couldn’t really rehearse in person since I live so far away, we rehearsed on and recorded the in the same session; so the recordings were often the third or fourth take.

Recording is still alien to me. It was years since I had done it and I forgot how it worked.

Without getting too much into it, we ultimately recorded live because we needed to hear each other – the rhythm section in one room, me in the booth with Steve and the fiddle/mandolin. Everyone then went back to re-record their parts and that’s honestly how we made it. Along the way, I had my friends Lucy and Moorea add in backing vocals from home studios to mix in.

The beauty of great musicians is that it’s supposed to be like that, you come together and it happens. It’s still surreal to me.  

Rick: Have you been surprised at how your songs blossom once in the hands of a professional recording engineer, a mixer or a producer? Or are they not much different than, say, a live performance? 

Jillian Matundan: Oh, yeah. For as odd and weird as recording in a studio feels to me, being a part of the mixing and producing was where it felt like the work was really done.

Once I gave into how the process, I had to check myself a lot in terms of my own perfectionist streak. Having Marco there to bounce ideas off of and understand what he was hearing and what he thought about the tracks was really fun – and I needed his expertise to bring out the best in the music.

In so many ways, having someone else who isn’t as intimate to the music was so necessary for it to become what it is. Blossom is the right word; this was part of what I realized after my 15 year block. I was so used to songwriting as a catharsis for me, where I process my feelings and where my emotions are allowed to come out and play, so songwriting years ago was really intimate and sacred to me. Alone.
I really needed others to help me and in so many ways, it was the allowing others to come in that has truly made all of this possible and it’s absolutely true for the recording as well. 

At the end of the day, though, this is still my music. And having such wonderful people helping me bring it to life with the same care that I was giving it was truly amazing. But, that’s what makes it different than a live performance.

I mostly perform solo. There’s nothing more vulnerable than that. Doing that live is a whole other experience and as I said before, that’s a very intimate and real-time conversation I’m having with those in the audience. It’s on me to bring that across, I don’t have fancy equipment and sometimes I forget chords or words. So to me, they are not in the same realm at all. Both are important, but they are very different.

Rick: Many of us, well I’d say all of us, have had scheduled performances cancelled. What would you advise to keep one’s musical and performance chops up to speed when this viral isolation subsides, so everyone can be as good or better than they were when we first locked ourselves down? 

Jillian Matundan: This has been such a trying and weird time. And the same goes for my creativity. The first two weeks of quarantine, I could not write to save my life. I didn’t even want to pick up an instrument. I would pick it up and get bored or disinterested and I knew that was when I needed to walk away.

But then one day, I picked it up and a brand new song came out. A few more days of honing it and I just knew it was done. It recently won silver in the Songwriters Association of Washington’s COVIDEO contest. People ask me to play it, which is still taking some getting used to. And while I’ve had some real moments of lovely inspiration, I have not written a new song since.

I’ve finished a couple that needed finishing touches, but I’m still feeling like they aren’t fully done. One week, I didn’t want to touch an instrument, but I painted and drew every single day. It’s coming out in different ways. What I’ve been telling people is the same thing some of my most favorite musicians and influences are saying, “just feel”. It’s okay to not be creative in this time. It’s okay to not be productive in this time! Fifteen years ago, I kept pushing at the fringes of my creativity to produce, to write, to finish, but I’ve learned to really let it sit these days. 
The way I’m keeping up my chops is to pick up my guitar when I have a minute and want to and I just play whatever my hands feel like playing, singing whatever comes out.

Maybe I have a song I’ve been trying to learn – that’s a good way to get practice in and expand your chops. I have a goal this year of learning how to clawhammer banjo. Funny enough, I have barely picked it up, but that’s on the table.

If you pick up an instrument every day, even if you play it for 10 minutes, you are keeping your chops up. So do that. Pick it up. It doesn’t matter what you play. It could be scales, not that any of us actually enjoy that. But just play once a day. Every other. Whatever you do, pick it up. You might be surprised!

Rick: How do you know when a song you’ve written is good, not so much by validation from others, but self-validation? 

Jillian Matundan: It’s so much easier when you get validation from others! But, to be honest, I don’t ever know. What I know is that when it feels done to me, when whatever it is I’m trying to say feels complete, then I know it’s good – to me. That’s the standard I ended up having to take on. In a world where I stepped away for so long, to finally begin sharing takes a measure of vulnerability and courage.

Sometimes I think it’s done, I run it by someone and it turns out I’m not. So, that other voice from others can be important so you don’t get stuck thinking everything that comes out of you is gold.

As I said before, sometimes the things I write that I think are silly or what I’d consider a throwaway end up being the ones people like the most. But now that I say that, I think the self-validation aspect is when I decide that it can be shared with the world.

Whether it’s good to others is always the risk. But, if it’s good enough to me, it can be shared. If it’s not good enough, it sits on a shelf until that day comes

Rick: Aside from your fine playing, you seem to have an engaging comical or whimsical side of you when performing. Have you always shown that or did that come later, maybe as your became more comfortable playing in front of audiences, and does it reflect your day-to-day personality?

Jillian Matundan: I don’t think that was always the case. I was so scared of performing the first time I ever had to when I was four that I didn’t. I just watched with my mom.

But remember, at one point, I was actively trying to become a concert violinist; being engaging or comical was not what I was there to do. Later, I learned who Victor Borge was and I thought, “Here’s a guy who could be himself and still be an amazing pianist – maybe there is hope for me.” Without getting too far into my psyche, I know that I use humor to deflect, but also because I think life is to be enjoyed.
Playing my music is very different than playing a violin concerto with a pianist or an orchestra. When I am performing a concerto – I’m playing and interpreting someone else’s music and I’m hoping you will feel that, or something that stirs within you, from my interpretation. When I’m playing my music, that’s it. You’re getting me, as stripped down as possible.

So, there’s no hiding who I am and I think it engages the audience in a different way. I also have this tendency to not know what I’m playing until I play in open mic situations, though I try to also leave a lot of flexibility in my sets when I’m playing an actual gig.

I try to read the room until I get up on stage. What song could I sing that would move that particular audience that night? What am I feeling? How does the atmosphere feel? I come to the stage, you come to listen, how do I get us through my time up at that mic together? I will do my best to use every tool in my kit to get you to listen to me, often that’s through self-deprecation or humor.

So, I’m glad to hear it’s engaging! Doesn’t always happen. I don’t want you be separate from me when I’m on stage, I want you to take the ride with me. 

Rick: As much as music is a wonderful thing to do play, there’s also the business side of things to learn and tend to, especially when venues pay musicians to perform. Have you some business acumen to rely on or mentors that offer you insights to help you along? 

Jillian Matundan: Oh, this is where I’m always asking other musicians for help and advice. I’m still new to this particular part of the world. It’s one thing to go to an open mic, another to record something for people to buy, another for wanting to play gigs.

So I ask everyone, I don’t care who you are or how long I’ve known you. I’m so glad we have an amazing community that is willing to encourage and support each other. I listen to podcasts of my favorite artists to hear how they do it, I read articles, I look at books and blogs. There’s not enough asking, I’m still trying to figure it out and even when I think I have it figured out, there’s always another door to open.

I’m grateful to the local music community here and I’m so grateful to the songwriting community from the retreat, because they also are a wealth of information and advice and support.

Rick: Families, friends and others can be wonderfully supportive or tough critics, how do you deal with those over the top compliments or maybe overly critical critiques to balance input from others? 

Jillian Matundan: I’m the most critical of myself. I have amazing friends and family who are incredibly supportive and also fair and sometimes tough critics. Like many humans, I have a hard time accepting praise or compliments, as well, so no matter how it comes, I’m just thankful, so that is how I deal with that.

I appreciate praise and criticism and because I’m the hardest on myself, it can be hard to balance. In the end, not only do I trust my gut, I try to think about what the song is actually about or what I was trying to capture in that moment. If I think I’ve been true to that, that is my north star.

I do take all input, regardless, and then I apply it to the same test: does it serve the song? Does it make it better? How does that mix in with what is there already? I think that I try to weigh that and honestly, it comes down to the song. I always have to stay true to the song. Which also means staying true to myself.

Rick: Let’s finish up with the future. What are your plans, what projects might we see from you with respect to your music or other interests you might have? 

Jillian Matundan: Oh, wow. Well, part of that is hard to say because of COVID, but there’s some interesting options that are emerging, including driveway concerts, busking in larger areas with friends, distantly, backyard gatherings. I’ll definitely be doing livestreams, though I haven’t in a while so I could focus on the album release.
And I do have an entire album worth of songs that are in progress, so that is definitely the next project. Until then, I just keep trying to drop into this moment, to do what strikes me creatively.

I’ve had some great opportunities to collaborate with others and like everything else so far, going to go with my gut and options seem to arise. Hasn’t steered me wrong yet. But I’m looking forward to whatever the universe brings next.  - Guitar International


Discography

"Hangin' On", Self-Released EP, 2020

Photos

Bio

Jillian Matundan is an award-winning, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter living in Northern Virginia. Her music and style are a blend of her favorite acoustic, rock, indie, and folk influences and inspirations.

Born and raised in New York State, she fell in love with classical music when she began taking violin lessons at the age of three. Jillian trained on piano, flute, and even sitar-but is self-taught on all the other instruments she plays (guitar, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, string bass, and a host of other random instruments). She took a fifteen-year hiatus from writing and performing music to pursue her career in the labor movement when she re-discovered her musical muse in August of 2018.

Encouraged by friends and fellow songwriters, Jillian began playing solo at local open mics in January 2019, sharing songs she had only started writing a few months before and has been on a tear ever since, winning six Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Awards, Silver in the first-ever Songwriters of Washington COVIDeo contest, and becoming Vienna, VA Idol Runner-up in 2019. She released her debut EP, "Hangin' On" in June 2020 and has collaborated and worked with other  musicians as a session musician in recordings and live-shows.   In August of 2021, she successfully fundraised her first full-length studio album with Plaid Dog Studios in Boston and began recording in the winter. The new album will be released in 2022.

Band Members